CAN I KEEP HER?

By Cathy Oliver

You are never more aware of the passage of time than when you’re watching your baby grow. It’s an odd sensation living days you know you’ll look back on as the best in your life. Every joy is tinged with the sad fact of temporality.

It’s the smell I remember the most. That heady mix of metallic blood, sweat, milk, balmy new baby skin. I remember the warmth and small weight of her on my chest, the newness of that feeling. I remember the exhilaration of meeting her for the first time, breathlessly exclaiming “I’m your mummy, I’m your mummy!” to the bewildered blood- and vernix-covered perfect little mass on my belly.

It seems like five minutes ago.

I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t return lightly to the first four or five months. They were incredible but exhausting to live through; moments of bliss and magic interspersed with steaming shits up the back, vomit-soaked outfits, constant feeding and the weakness and fragility of my healing hormone-riddled body.

Now though, now is perfect. Now is filled with giggles, joy and moments that make my heart feel like it will explode with happiness. The challenges aren’t so challenging, and each day I’m hit with a fresh sense of how lucky I am to have this amazing little girl in my life.

Every now and again, I notice a detail in our lives and wonder if she will remember it. A line of elephants on a blanket, tails up and down alternately. Does she notice this now? Will her child’s eyes wonder over it? The sort of small detail that strikes a vague chord of distant recognition in your adult mind – like when I read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and the piece of cherry pie looks familiar to me.

Last week, we spent a significant portion of one day snuggled in bed whilst the rain poured outside. Alice slept on me and I kept my nose in her hair, breathing it in, wondering how many days we would have like this.

The awareness that you can’t keep these fleeting moments can stop you from fully living in them. Instead, I try to be present, to enjoy the ‘here and now’ as much as I can.

I have to snap myself out of it when my musings get the better of me. I feel like I’m living in a memory because I can’t shake the image of time as a treadmill, constantly slipping away. The awareness that you can’t keep these fleeting moments can stop you from fully living in them. Instead, I try to be present, to enjoy the ‘here and now’ as much as I can.

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